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NZ Sales: October tally highest on record

Tracking well: Holden’s Trax crept into the top 10 last month, with the car-maker shifting 297 units.

October marks the strongest single sales month ever in New Zealand

NZ sales logo3 Nov 2016

By JACQUI MADELIN in New Zealand

NEW Zealand new-car sales records were smashed in October, with the haul of 14,709 vehicles the highest sales figure for one month on record, well above the previous high of 13,983 units set in July 1984.

Last month’s tally – which was made up of 10,795 passenger registrations and 3914 commercials – also marked the first time sales for one month have topped 14,000 units.

The Toyota Corolla small car recaptured the top spot with 1210 sales, most of which (1026) were rental sales.

It was followed by the continually strong Ford Ranger (768), Toyota’s HiLux (512), the Toyota Yaris (362, including 269 rentals) and Holden Commodore (356, of which 255 were rentals).

These were followed by the Holden Colorado (345), Holden Cruze (303, including 197 rentals) and Nissan Navara (298), then came a trio of cars that all recorded 297 apiece – Mazda CX-5, Holden Trax (including 247 rentals), and Toyota HiAce (including 86 rentals) – with the top ten rounded out by the Toyota RAV4 (296, of which 145 were rentals).

Toyota retains market leader for the month – although its sales dropped 1.1 per cent to 3287 for a 22.3 per cent share – ensuring it was the leader in both the passenger and SUV market.

Toyota NZ general manager of sales and operations Steven Prangnell told GoAuto that Toyota sales were steady because the company was selling to forecast.

“We run quite a detailed seasonality index to make a projection for the seasonally adjusted annual rate,” he said. “At the start of the year we were saying 125,000, then lifted it to 141,000, and thought it could reach 143,000 – then came October, and kerbang.”

Mr Prangnell said both corporate and tourism rental companies were stocking up, but added that sales were strong across the board.

“We are tracking for our biggest quarter ever, with strong rental, fleet and retail across our dealer network.”

Mr Prangnell admitted that Toyota could sell more vehicles, if it had appropriate supply.

“We are under-supplied in a bull market. We did not expect this would happen, but everyone has been caught short – MIA (Motor Industry Association) inventory numbers are down around 20 per cent.”

That said, Holden met October’s challenge, its registrations up 43 per cent, to 1866, for its largest month on record.

GM Holden general manager of sales Sean Tupp said the rental market drove demand last month, and confirmed that Holden’s percentage of rental volume was ahead.

He also said the launch of updated Colorado pick-up and its Trailblazer SUV twin has driven inquiry, adding that the company was struggling to keep up with demand for some model lines, especially for top-spec variants.

Ford kept the commercial lead thanks to the Ranger, with a 21 per cent share, or 839 of its total 1624 units.

Ford NZ general marketing manager Cameron Thomas said that while it was a good month for Ranger, sales were strong across the passenger and commercial mix, with strong results for Focus, Mondeo and Kuga in runout ahead of the arrival of the facelift.

This was Ford’s strongest month four about nine years, he said, with the brand gaining traction in the passenger segment – its target this year.

Ford has been able to work with regional and international operations to obtain some stock from markets with good supply, with Mr Thomas saying that Ford was “confident of production going through”.

Mazda sales rose 3.8 per cent to 1067, while Nissan’s lifted 29.1 per cent to 781.

Nissan NZ managing director John Manley said the market had “gone crazy,” adding that nationally, dairy auction prices were more positive, unemployment was dropping, property values were up and people were feeling confident.

This time last year Nissan had issues sourcing Qashqai and X-Trail SUVs, but this year stock was not an issues, ensuing the company was selling “as many X-Trail and Qashqai as we can land, and the ute segment is going gangbusters, too”.

While Mitsubishi had another strong month, up by 25 per cent to 764, in contrast Hyundai sales fell – by an eye-watering 19.5 per cent, to 592. The Korean car-maker was the big loser of the top ten, down 19.5 per cent to 592.

Hyundai NZ general manager Andy Sinclair expressed frustration, but said that Hyundai Motor Company in South Korea had just had its biggest worker strike in 12 years.

“It started at the beginning of August, and they were losing production of 6000 cars a day by the time it finished. It was the longest strike for 12 years, so that impacts arrivals,” he said.

With the strike called off in October, Mr Sinclair said there were cars on the water, hopefully enough for a reasonable November, although Hyundai will not be fully back on stream until December.

Volkswagen (up 51 per cent to 478), Kia (up 70.9 per cent to 458) and Suzuki (up 1.9 per cent to 419) rounded out the top 10.

Mr Prangnell said New Zealand business could not underestimate the effect of immigration, infrastructure development and housing values on vehicle sales. He expects another two months for Toyota of 3000-plus monthly figures, “and we could have sold more if we could have got it”.

As for the market overall: “Call me at the end of the year. I’d put my money on 145,000.”NZ Top 10 makes October 2016
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